Crawling Heat

Steam sprays from fissures

in old hard lava.

Breath of deep molten rock
scours necks of evergreens.
Orange and yellow ruffles
rise to taste the wind.

Tongues of fire lick east away
from where the sun has sunk
flicker on the rooflines, pulse,
float, glimmer in the hills.
Smoke through trees like ground fog.
The orchard lights up
like a square dance in a volcano.

Wind from the eruption flings
scalding dust in the farmer's face;
razored chips of stone break open,
spin through his tissues
leave bits of him clinging
to his splintered shelter.

A stubborn escapee failing, falling,
crawls in the sand by the river.
The ash the face withering.
Clouds part like gates.
The sun a glimmer above the cloud cover.

The chasm folding open, rising to greet him.
No handhold, no surface on which to lean.
He gathers himself to render
his vault across the fissure.

Jesse Minkert lives in Seattle. In 2008, Wood Works Press published a letterpress collection of his microstories, Shortness of Breath & Other Symptoms. His work has appeared in about forty-five journals including the Chaffin Journal, Minetta Review, Confrontation, Floating Bridge Review, and Harpur Palate. He keeps a blog at .